Live at Vicar Street came as an unexpected precious gift to Christy Moore's fans, who had reason to believe that the 1994 recording Live at the Point would be Moore's final concert album. But fortunately, Moore's 1999 announcement that heart disease would force him to retire from live performance proved premature. This record preserves for posterity the series of low-key Vicar Street performances that began within two years of that announcement. Apparently, Moore wasn't ready to give up gigging after all. Nobody complained. If Live at Vicar Street is any indication, Moore's strategy was to take it easy on his ailing ticker by toning down the dynamic comic energy that dominated Live at the Point and focusing on his vast catalog of Irish ballads. It would be disingenuous to say that the energy isn't missed here, though Moore does perform spirited renditions of "Continental Ceilidh," "Lisdoonvarna," "Johnny Don't Go," and "Biko Drum." But the relaxed and thoughtful atmosphere of the record provides a showcase for Moore's sensitive vocal interpretations, which are evocative and sometimes -- especially on "First Time Ever" -- breathtaking. He is joined on every track by Donal Lunny and Declan Sinnott, the two men who produced his previous studio album. But this is emphatically not a live version of that record. "Johnny Don't Go" is the only This Is the Day song to make the live CD, and the collaboration between the three is more productive in this setting than it was in the studio. Their arrangements are simple but inventive and arresting, providing a three-dimensional backdrop that helps Moore to explore his quiet side in a mellow but vibrant environment.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Evan Cater